Magazine article The Spectator

Breaking the Rules

Magazine article The Spectator

Breaking the Rules

Article excerpt

WHEN you've been playing bridge for years, it's easy to forget how complicated the game can seem at first. All the rules and conventions certainly confused me. I can still remember everyone laughing when my partner doubled a contract and, sharing his confidence that it would go down, I attempted to redouble.

One of my favourite 'beginner' stories comes from the former international Pat Gardner. Once, supervising a class of novices, she came across a Mrs Poppywell, who was about to play in [spades]4 with only two spades in her hand and two in dummy. When Pat pointed out that she needed at least four of a suit to bid it, Mrs P. replied, Oh, I didn't bid spades. Mrs Clarke bid them on my left, but it's my turn to play the hand.'

What's struck me over the years, however, is that the game never really gets any less complicated. Nothing you ever learn is set in stone: the better the player, the more he or she seems to depart from the standard teachings of the game. …

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